No external influence in severing ties with Qatar: govt

President Abdulla Yameen (R) meets with the Qatari Ambassador to the Maldives, Rashid Shafea Saeed Shafea Al Fahaida Al Marri. PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

President Abdulla Yameen (R) meets with the Qatari Ambassador to the Maldives, Rashid Shafea Saeed Shafea Al Fahaida Al Marri. PHOTO/PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

The government of the Maldives proclaimed late Monday that its decision to severe diplomatic ties with Qatar was not influenced by any other nation and that the Maldives will continue to maintain trade relations with the Gulf nation.

It surfaced Monday that the Maldives abruptly severed the diplomatic relations first established with Qatar on May 26, 1984 just hours after Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Libya announced they have cut ties with Qatar. After years of clashes, the Gulf states and Libya and Egypt made the decision accusing Qatar of supporting terrorist and extremist organisations.

With the Maldives following suit, it has given rise to rumours that the government had been influenced by Saudi Arabia. However, in a press conference held by the President’s Office late Monday, the Attorney General Mohamed Anil refuted the rumours and declared that the decision was made on authority accorded to the president in the Constitution after extensive discussions with his Cabinet.

AG Anil proclaimed that every decision taken by the state prioritises the independence and sovereignty of the Maldives with no room for undue influence by a foreign body. He went on to say that the Maldives also gives priority to its national policies alongside its foreign policy, which stresses zero tolerance to terrorism and extremism.

“This decision was taken under this policy,” he stated, saying the Maldives does not support maintaining relations with sympathisers and supporters of terrorist and extremist organisations.

The AG added that the cabinet and president had deeply considered all the pros and cons of severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, emphatically assuring that the citizens of the Maldives will not be negatively affected by the decision.

Trade relations with Qatar will continue

AG Mohamed Anil (L) and Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim (C) speak at press conference regarding the Maldives' decision to severe diplomatic ties with Qatar. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

AG Mohamed Anil (L) and Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim (C) speak at press conference regarding the Maldives’ decision to severe diplomatic ties with Qatar. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

In a tweet late Monday, the President’s Office’ spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali announced that despite severing diplomatic relations, the Maldives will maintain trade relations with Qatar.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Mohamed Asim confirmed the state’s decision to maintain trade with Qatar during the press conference later.

In response to an inquiry whether any changes had been brought to the Maldives’ foreign policy to cut ties with Qatar after 33 years, Minister Asim asserted that the policy is unchanged. He added that the Maldives always looks to maintain strong relations with individual nations, especially with Islamic Arab states.

Meanwhile, the Maldives’ decision to cut ties with Qatar has sparked concern among the public and political leaders.

The five Middle-east nations are accusing Qatar of working to wreak uproar and dispute in the Middle-east, declaring that Qatar is backing terrorist organisations including the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran-backed rebels. The accusations come in the wake of an article published on the Qatar News Agency website last month, which allegedly cited Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani as saying that Iran works to maintain regional peace and that Hamas is not a terrorist organisation. Qatar has denied the remarks, claiming that state media had allegedly been “hacked” and that the nation is the victim of a “shameful cybercrime”.

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